linkfest – 12/01/14

look! another linkfest! (^_^)

Our Cats, Ourselves“Which brings us to the genome of one critical tame animal: ourselves, humans. The Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Konrad Z. Lorenz once suggested that humans were subject to the same dynamics of domestication. Our brain and body sizes peaked during the end of the last ice age, and declined with the spread of agriculture…. Our cultural flexibility and creativity since the end of the ice age have not freed humans from evolutionary forces, but have opened up novel and startling paths. Thinking of domestication as an evolutionary process that occurs through ‘artificial’ selection creates a false dichotomy of nurture and nature that plays into a conceit of human exceptionalism. In fact, the idea that we are apart from nature, that it is ours to tame and exploit, is an outmoded approach. A more useful interpretation is that over the past 10,000 years, humans fashioned their own ecosystem. We were part of a natural process that altered the landscape…. The same forces that reshaped the genomes of our domesticates also reshaped ours.” – from razib. in the new york times! (^_^)

Ancient Easter Islanders Interbred With Native Americans“According to the recent study conducted by geneticists, the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island met and interbred with Native Americans long before Westerners arrived…. The recent genetic study is published on Thursday in the Current Biology journal. According to the study, these ancient people had significant contact with Native Americans hundreds of years ago, before the westerners reached the Island in 1722…. The finding of the study suggests that the intermixing occurred 19 to 23 generations ago. The researchers said that the Polynesian people (Rapa Nui’s) are not believed to have started mixing with Europeans until much later, the 19th century. Malaspinas said the genetic ancestry of today’s Rapa Nui people is roughly 75% Polynesian, 15% European and 10% Native American.”

Barley fuelled farmers’ spread onto Tibetan plateau“Cold-tolerant crop enabled high-altitude agriculture some 3,600 years ago”

Faster than Fisher“[M]igration and conquest, must explain the wide distribution of many geographically widespread selective sweeps and partial sweeps. They were adaptive, all right, but expanded much faster than possible from purely local diffusion.” – from greg cochran.

The Germ of Laziness – also from greg cochran.

Putting IBD to Bed – from razib.

The Red Queen Model of Recombination Hotspots Evolution in the Light of Archaic and Modern Human Genomes – h/t mwpennell! who tweeted: “Recombination hotspots in humans appear to be young…evidence for Red Queen theory for evolution of recombination?”

Inclusive fitness and sexual conflict: How population structure can modulate the battle of the sexes – h/t rebecca sear!

Do Chinese people get bored less easily?“Advanced farming — intensive land use, task specialization, monoculture — has profoundly shaped East Asian societies, particularly China. This is particularly so for rice farming. Because the paddies need standing water, rice farmers must work collectively to build, dredge, and drain elaborate irrigation networks. Wheat farming, by comparison, requires no irrigation and only half as much work. Advanced farming seems to have favored a special package of predispositions and inclinations, including greater acceptance of monotony. This has been shown in two recent studies.” – from peter frost.

Culture and state boredom: A comparison between European Canadians and Chinese“European Canadians (vs. Chinese) are more likely to experience state boredom.” – h/t erwin schmidt!

Gender differences in preferences, choices, and outcomes: SMPY longitudinal study“The figures show significant gender differences in life and career preferences, which affect choices and outcomes *even after ability is controlled for*…. According to the results, SMPY men are more concerned with money, prestige, success, creating or inventing something with impact, etc. SMPY women prefer time and work flexibility, want to give back to the community, and are less comfortable advocating unpopular ideas. Some of these asymmetries are at the 0.5 SD level or greater.” – from steve hsu.

Are liberals and conservatives differently wired? – also from peter frost.

Detecting ‘polygenes’ using signals of polygenic selection. Tools for increasing the power of GWAS – from davide piffer who tweeted: “Watson and Venter’s genomes have higher frequency of intelligence polygenenes.”

Intelligence lost at 1.23 IQ points per decade“Michael Woodley of Menie spends much of his time tending his ancestral estate, pacing the linen-fold panelled rooms of the ancient house, warming his hands at the towering stone fireplace and meditating on the collapse of the aristocracy, the paucity of contemporary innovation and the lamentable and persistent downward drift of the national intellect. Now he sends me a barefoot runner with his latest manuscript, which I have read as the autumn mists creep across the Nadder valley, before penning this reply for the poor urchin to carry back to his master. Young Woodley avers that, not only are we going to hell in a handcart, but we are doing so at a pace which he can predict with some accuracy (1.23 IQ points per decade), composed as it is of two dysgenic effects: the dull have been reproducing with greater fecundity than the bright (.39), and increasing paternal age has increased the rate of deleterious mutations (.84).” – from dr. james thompson.

Gypsy intelligence – also from dr. james thompson.

Lower Body Symmetry and Running Performance in Elite Jamaican Track and Field Athletes – h/t keith laws! who tweeted: “More symmetrical knees & ankles in Elite Jamaican track and field athletes…Of course…”

Great Ape Origins of Personality Maturation and Sex Differences: A Study of Orangutans and Chimpanzees

The Case Against Early Cancer Detection“[C]ancer screening may harm more people than it helps.” – h/t jason collins!

In the U.S., Few Heavy Drinkers Are Actually Alcoholics“About 90 percent of people who drink excessively — more than eight drinks a week for women, 15 for men — are not alcohol dependent.” – h/t ray sawhill!

Genes tell new story: Alcohol in moderation only benefits 15% of population“An alcoholic beverage a day, especially wine, is widely believed to help keep heart disease risk low, but new research from the University of Gothenburg shows that only about 15% of the human population — those with a specific the form of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) gene — actually gain this benefit from moderate alcohol consumption.”

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis“What a growing body of research reveals about the biology of human happiness — and how to navigate the (temporary) slump in middle age.”

Despite its problems, the United States of America is still the best. Thing. Ever.“Other aspects of America’s story, though, seem less important now that the quest for racial equality has become almost a religious mission; this week I finally got around to watching the HBO series John Adams, which begins with the Massachusetts lawyer defending Captain Thomas Preston, the officer blamed for the Boston massacre. The mob wanted to avenge the deaths but, this being a colony where people passionately believed in their ancestral English liberties, ‘due process’ was followed – a term that dates back to the Parliament of Edward III but was obviously influenced by Clause 39 of the Magna Carta. Due process is what was followed in the Ferguson case, but maybe that’s just a boring old racist Anglo-Saxon idea that we can forget about now (grand juries are literally Anglo-Saxon, dating back to the reign of Ethelred II, or possibly the vibrant culturally-enriching Viking maniac King Canute).” – from ed west.

Children are not science projects“What do we tell to prospective adoptive parents? The first answer, and the only answer that ultimately counts, is that they are doing the Lord’s work. They have the opportunity to provide love and nurturing to a child who needs it. There are few better things that human beings can do with their time. The second answer is that they, like biological parents, are not miracle-workers. They will be unable to mold the child. Sometimes their adopted child will experience problems that are not the adoptive parents’ fault; sometimes they will reveal gifts of talent and character that are equally not to the adoptive parents’ credit. What is to the credit of good parents, adoptive and biological alike, is enfolding the child in love.” – from charles murray…who’s really just a big softie after all. (^_^) — see also: Adopt a child, but discard an illusion from dr. james thompson.

In Northern Ireland, a Wave of Immigrants Is Met With Fists – which came (or *should’ve* come) as a surprise to absolutely no one….

When exactly did the Industrial Revolution start?

Europe’s Bronze Age Collapse Not Caused by Climate Change

How Thanksgiving, the ‘Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,’ Won Over the South

Your Inner Feather“About 300 million years ago, our ancestors began to lay hard-shelled eggs. Those early animals would give rise to mammals, reptiles, and birds (collectively known as amniotes, named for the amniotic egg). Edwards and his colleagues found that the first amniotes already had the *entire* complement of feather patterning genes. That means you, as an amniote, have them too.” – cool!

Viruses as a Cure

Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland“Cat appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland.” – wait. what?!

bonus: Snakes are ‘righties’ — with their penis, that is

bonus bonus: Snakes Leave Identity Within Their Fang Marks“Getting a DNA swab from the fang marks of a snake bite can accurately identify the type of snake, a team working in Nepal has found.”

bonus bonus bonus: Monterey Bay researchers capture rare deep-sea anglerfish on video for first time – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Ants Regularly Pack Up and Dig New Nests, and Nobody Knows Why

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Red Baron’s WWI German Fokker triplane rebuilt by flying enthusiast – oooo! pretty. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. a face only a mother could love. maybe.)


  1. Tibet needed agriculture for people to live there year round and there is more intanse UV radiation in Tibet than at the sees level equator. Tibetans are not dark but then they had had polyandry usually brothers. “When competitors are positively related (e.g. siblings), an individual may refrain from harming its competitor(s) and their mate(s) because this can improve the focal individual’s inclusive fitness.”

    Not true that anyone in Northern Ireland is going going after immigrants. It’s just 99% white and thus racist by definition. I am sure immigrants have had problems but the problems the indigenous have with the indigenous are never of any interest to the media. In white societies immigrants can only be victims of the evil indigenous. On any given day in a working class area you have all sorts of problems in the street or with neighbours in Britain, and you have no redress.

    Anyway, The Loyalists (ie former violent Protestant paramilitaries and now half-baked gangsters in Northern ireland) are very wary of being tagged as racist and don’t allow attacks on immigrants in the rough areas they control. One formerly important loyalist leader had a north African father (always the fathers of course).

    The Loyalists are anti- Catholic and the protestant areas have a much lower birth rate so the vacant houses are all in the protestant areas. When Northern Ireland was created less than a hundred years ago it was only 20% Catholic; now it is 45% Catholic. The middle class protestant families have tended to leave the province for Britain. The Irish republic is admitting more immigrants than ever, they won’t escape diversity.


  2. “Ancient Easter Islanders Interbred With Native Americans”: could be. One of my all-time favourite books (Irwin’s The Prehistoric Exploration and Colonisation of the Pacific) thought it probable that Polynesians from Easter Island had landed on South America. On the other hand, I don’t know how many assumptions are necessary to conclude that 19-23 generations have elapsed.


  3. “But cancer is a scary disease”: can anyone explain why people, and especially Americans, make such a fetish of cancer? We are all going to die, every last one of us.


  4. “Few Heavy Drinkers Are Actually Alcoholics”. Put otherwise: the definition of “heavy drinker” was generated by the Ministry of Guesswork.


  5. “Alcohol in moderation only benefits 15% of population”: ah phooey. Suppose I’m not in the 15%: a glass a day benefits me anyway, because I enjoy it. I am disinclined to obey instructions from bloody puritans.


  6. “Getting a DNA swab from the fang marks of a snake bite can accurately identify the type of snake, a team working in Nepal has found.” Brilliant! When we lived in Oz the advice was to kill the snake that had bitten you and take it to hospital with you; there, if necessary, microscopic examination of its anal scales would identify it.


  7. @luke – “Will someone tell me whether it is true or not?”

    cochran and co. argue that such a decline in iq scores in such a short space of time could not possibly be for genetic (dysgenic) reasons. no way.

    let the battle begin! (~_^) (or continue to rage on, i guess….)


  8. “Watson and Venter’s genomes have higher frequency of intelligence polygenenes”

    Wilson is broke and begging for forgiveness. . Why the Scientist Who Unravelled DNA Is Selling His Nobel Prize:- “Craig Venter, the scientist who raced Watson to sequencing the human genome, said to the BBC in 2007. “There is no basis in scientific fact or in the human genetic code for the notion that skin color will be predictive of intelligence.”


  9. “cochran and co. argue that such a decline in iq scores in such a short space of time could not possibly be for genetic (dysgenic) reasons. no way.”

    Visual Reaction Time in Healthy Obese Individuals

    IT makes evolutionary sense that caloric availability would have an impact, not just on brain regions involved in metabolism, such as the hypothalamus, but also on brain regions involved in learning, such as the hippocampus,’ says Alexis Stranahan, a professor at Georgia Health Sciences University and Mattson’s co-author on the Nature Reviews Neuroscience essay. ‘Your mind needs to be sharp if you are looking for food. At the other end of the spectrum, it also makes sense that an overabundance of food would dull the senses, making it harder to form associations.’


  10. Watson said that the dark skinned have higher sex drives “”That’s why you have Latin lovers,” he said. “You’ve never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.” He then went on to show a photograph of Kate Moss and assert that thin people are unhappy and therefore ambitious. “Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them,” he added. Fat people may also be more sexual, he suggested, because their bloodstreams contain higher levels of leptin. (But Slimmer women’s waist is associated with better erectile function in men independent of age.)

    The dark skinned have a higher sex drive talk. BTW, a tanning drug working by melanocyte-stimulating hormones produces sexual arousal . ‘A clinical study published in 2000 of 20 men with psychogenic and organic erectile dysfunction conducted at the Section of Urology of The University of Arizona College of Medicine concluded, “that Melanotan II is a potent initiator of penile erection in men with erectile dysfunction.” [15] […] A January 2009 report in Wired Science described the site’s forum as having more than 50,000 posts primarily covering “Usage and Experimentation” by members with many covering detailed regimens on how to attain skin darkening and/or sexual function [with Melanotan II] ‘


  11. Razib “Just as the fur of our mammalian domesticates, freed from the constraint of needing to fade into the landscape, became a riot of diverse colors, human pigmentation started to change and many populations became light-skinned. ”

    Razib just ignores the inconvenient facts: that domesticated cats have obviously been selected for coat colours, Darwin’s noticing that natural selection (or its relaxation) could not have produced WITHIN THE SAME SPECIES the extreme difference between Black Africans and Europeans, Darwin’s sexual selection ideas, and the inconvenient fact that skin colour IS connected to sex and sexual response


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